Floor Finishes – Oil vs. Water

Learn what you need to know to choose between and oil based wood floor finish and a water based wood floor finish.

Floor Finishes – Oil Based vs. Water Based 

How do I know which finish is best, water base or oil base?

                This question is almost like asking, “What’s better a Chevrolet or a Ford?” Both water base wood finishes and oil base wood finishes have their unique pros and cons and both are good, durable hardwood floor finishes, but which one is better? Choosing the hardwood finish that’s right for you and your family involves knowing the benefits of each type of finish along with how they may impact the overall budget for your hardwood floor refinishing project.

The key benefits of water based wood finishes are:

Durability- In independent Taber Abrasion tests, high quality water based finishes such as Bona Traffic and Arboritec Avenue have outperformed traditional oil based finishes for scratch resistance. (source)

Health- Because water based finishes contain fewer solids or VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) they typically give off less odor than traditional oil base finishes. Most high quality water base finishes are compliant with the GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality program so you can rest assure in knowing that the water based finish being applied to your hardwood floor is safe for your family and pets.

Appearance- Water based wood finishes are generally a clear wood finish which will not alter the color of either the natural wood or the rich tones of Bona floor stains that may be applied to the floor. Also, water based finishes do not amber over time when exposed to sunlight like oil base finishes may.

Fast Drying- As a general rule, water based finishes will dry within 2-4 hours depending on room temperature and humidity. This means you and your family can be back into your home in less time than with a traditional oil based finish which may take as long as 12-14 hours to dry. (source)

The key benefits of oil based wood finishes are:

Durability- Even though they may not rate as high on Taber Abrasion tests, oil based or ‘oil modified’ hardwood finishes are highly durable finishes. Because they are a thicker finish they provide an excellent surface coating to protect your hardwood floor against scratching and general wear.

Appearance– Oil based wood finishes have a light amber color to them which can enhance the natural beauty of hardwood or deepen the tone of Bona floor stain colors. Many people prefer the richness of oil base finishes over the clear and more natural appearance of water based finishes.

Cost- In most cases, oil based finishes are less expensive than water based finishes. Because oil based finishes are thicker most hardwood floors only require two coats compared to a three coat system with most water based finishes.

Does Denver Dustless offer both types of hardwood finishes?

                Denver Dustless is experienced in both water based and traditional oil based polyurethane finishes. In fact, Denver Dustless has been working alongside some of the most common polyurethane finish manufacturers including Bona, and Arboritec to help test and refine water based finishes for supreme durability, and ease of application for years.

While only you and your family can decide for sure which type of hardwood floor finish is right for you based on health concerns, lifestyle and budget, the experts at Denver Dustless can certainly help answer any questions you may have.

Hardwood Estimate Request

Your Message